Serving clients in Fayetteville and all of NW Arkansas
A workplace injury can be devastating. After suffering one, you may wonder how you will pay your medical bills, who will take care of your home, and will you ever be able to do the things that you are accustomed to doing? While some of these questions can only be answered by the passage of time, those questions involving money may be answered by the existence of the workers’ compensation program in Arkansas. The workers’ compensation program in Arkansas is administered by the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC) and nearly every worker in Arkansas is covered, although exceptions exist. For instance, those employed by a company of 2 or fewer employees may not be covered nor are agricultural farm laborers, those employed in domestic help, or Arkansans employed by non-profit, religious, charitable or relief organizations. While railroad and maritime workers are not covered by Arkansas’ workers’ compensation program, they are covered by federal programs.
What Types of Benefits Are Available Under Workers’ Compensation?
Benefits under the workers’ compensation program typically include those for medical expenses and for lost wages. Benefits for medical expenses can be rather broad and may include:
- Medical devices like crutches, a walker, a neck brace, or a wheel chair
- Surgery and pre-surgical care
- Hospital bills
- Prescription medication
- Physical therapy
- Other rehabilitative treatments
- Visits to a healthcare provider
However before you seek treatment, you should first consult with your employer’s insurance carrier. While you will not be responsible for the bills if you have prior approval, you may be liable for these expenses if you seek treatment without approval.
As for benefits for lost wages, you become eligible for some cash benefits after the 7th calendar day and at the direction of your approved physician. The benefits for temporary total disability (TTD) is 66 and two-thirds percent of the worker’s average weekly wage. The payments are tax-free. While you can receive payment for the first 7 days, you will only receive it if the total duration of your disability is more than fourteen days. However, those days do not have to be continuous.
How Do You Get Benefits Under Arkansas’ Workers Compensation Program?
The AWCC is not an insurance company, but rather the government body that is in charge of investigating and enforcing workers’ compensation laws in Arkansas. Therefore one does not start the claim process with the AWCC, but with one’s employer. To start with, it is the worker’s responsibility to report their injury to their employer as soon as it is possible to do so. Reporting your injury to your employer puts a chain of events into motion that will result in a determination on you claim. After receiving you injury report, your employer must notify their insurance carrier of the injury by filing a First Report of Injury or Illness.
After this document has been filed, you are likely to be asked to see the doctor your company or your company’s insurance carrier has selected. While you may ask to see a different physician, you should be sure to cooperate and comply with your insurance company at each and every step of the process. If you fail to cooperate, such actions may be used against you later or delay the awarding of your benefits.
If you report your injury promptly and your claim is approved, you should receive your first compensation within 14 days. However if a mistake, misunderstanding or other unfavorable outcome occurs, you or your attorney should first contact your employer and its insurance carrier. If a phone call does not resolve your problem, the AWCC can arrange a preliminary conference to mediate and discuss problems with your claim. If the matter still cannot be resolved, you or your lawyer may need to file Claim for Compensation – Form C (AR- C) with the AWCC within 2 years of your injury date.
Contact Bentonville, Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Attorney Ken Kieklak
For more than 20 years, Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law has fought for hard-working Arkansans who are injured at work. To schedule your free and confidential initial consultation, call 479-439-1843 or contact us online today.
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